Michael Solomonov is the owner of the restaurant Zahav and he has the secret to the most amazing silky, smooth Israeli hummus! Happily, he is willing to share that secret, so I can in turn bring the recipe to you. Just a warning: it is addictively good.
Several months ago I was listening to an interview on NPR with Michael Solomonov. I had never heard of him before, not living anywhere near Philadelphia (where he has his restaurant), but the interview talked at length about how tasty and smooth and amazing his hummus is, so I knew I had to try it.
How could I resist?
That’s right, I couldn’t! 🙂 And they knew what they were talking about. This is superior hummus. It’s creamy. It’s light. It’s great on wraps or as a dip.
I really can’t say enough good things about this hummus. Like most people I often buy hummus and enjoy the smoother hummus out there these days and sometimes I make hummus at home using cooked beans or canned beans. But I’ve never been able to buy or make the super creamy, silky hummus I’ve had out at good Middle Eastern restaurants. It was just never the same.
How to Make Israeli Hummus
To make Israeli hummus, you can start by soaking chickpeas…or not. It’s up to you. My next section discusses the debate and my recipe includes directions and times for both soaked and unsoaked beans.
Either way, you are now going to cook the chickpeas along with the secret ingredient. Baking soda. Baking soda + overcooking the chickpeas will give you super smooth hummus. If you look at the photo below, you can see that the chickpeas are very soft and falling apart a bit. Don’t go too far though! You should still have recognizable beans, just soft ones.
Also, you are going to salt those beans when you are cooking them. Kenji says so. It will not make your chickpeas tough, but what it will do is flavor them from the inside out.
Once you have nice, soft, salted beans, it’s time to make the hummus.
Start by pureeing garlic and lemon juice and a little bit more salt in the food processor. Then let it sit and mellow for 10 minutes (mixing together garlic or onion with acid makes for a more mild flavor) before straining out the garlic and pouring the garlicky lemon juice back in the processor.
Next up is the second secret of ultra-creamy hummus. Lots of tahini! You will be using at least 1/3 cup, and I like the hummus up to 2/3 cup of tahini. Since you are using so much tahini, you may want to search out better brands. If you have a Middle Eastern or Greek import store in the area, that can be a good place to look, or you can order tahini online – two good brands I like are Soom Foods and 365 Organic Whole Foods.
Whip the tahini up with the lemon juice and add water or chickpea cooking liquid by the tablespoon until the tahini is light and smooth.
Now add the beans and the cumin. And process it all together for 4 minutes, add more water/cooking liquid until it is the texture and thickness you want.
Once your hummus is done, it’s time to scoop it into a bowl and top it with whatever you like on your hummus. A few suggestions are kalamata olives, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts, chickpeas, and paprika.
It’s safe to say I’ve become a little obsessed with this hummus. Since it’s soooo good! To the point that I had to figure out the best method to make it, and so I bought several bags of beans and tried stovetop (too fussy), oven (nice and easy), and instant pot (also easy and a bit faster). And looked into the soak vs. no soak debate.
My finale cooking times and directions are all in the recipe card, but now it’s time to talk about the debate…
Do You Need to Soak Dried Beans?
I come down on the side of no.
For some beans, like black beans and lentils. There isn’t even a debate. (Yes – Kenji again. The man knows his beans.) You should not soak these beans! They are thin skinned and there is no value, or even reduction in flavor and texture, when soaking.
What about other beans? Still no! (most of the time)
Yes, soaking will reduce the cooking time, and for very old beans which are especially dried out, it is helpful so that all the beans cook evenly, since some beans will dry out more than others over time.
However, the time reduction is really not worth having to remember to measure out the beans and soak them the night before. Let’s face it: how often have you forgotten and then couldn’t make whatever bean dish you wanted cook for dinner?
Even with all this info, a lot of sources still want you to soak your chickpeas. And maybe when you don’t add baking soda to the water, soaking is good (I have yet to test that variable), but I have found that chickpeas can stand with other beans and cook right from dry to creamy and soft.
That means, even for chickpeas, though I do have cooking directions for soaked chickpeas if you’re into that, I don’t bother soaking and just pop them in my oven or instant pot (depending on my mood), along with salt and baking soda. And pull out beautiful beans every time.
Note: If you are cooking kidney beans (either red or white) or dried fava (broad) beans, you do need to let the water come to a good boil and stay there for at least 10 minutes before you do anything else with them. These beans (esp. red kidneys) contain high concentrations of the toxin, phytohaemagglutinin, which is destroyed by boiling but activated by low heat. Once you boil, you’re good to go with any cooking method.
Here are a few other recipes for Mediterranean Dips:
- White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip
- Baba Ghanoush
- Quick and Easy Romesco Sauce
- Roasted Red Pepper and Feta Dip
If you try my recipe for Silky Smooth Israeli Hummus, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! You can connect with me by subscribing to my emails (see the form in the sidebar or below the recipe card), liking my FACEBOOK page, or by following me on PINTEREST.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Zahav's Silky Smooth Israeli Hummus
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 tsp baking soda,
- 1 heaping tbsp kosher salt, for salting the water
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, about 1 1/2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3-2/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- extra virgin olive oil, parsley, chopped kalamata olives, for garnish
- Cook the chickpeas according to your preferred method as detailed in the notes.
- In a food processor, puree the garlic, lemon juice and kosher salt. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, to mellow the garlic. Strain the liquid and discard the solids. Add the liquid back to the processor and spoon in the tahini. Start up the processor and add the reserved chickpea water, one tablespoon at time until the tahini is light colored and smooth.
- Add the chickpeas and the cumin to the processor and process for 4 minutes, adding more chickpea water if the hummus seems too thick. The hummus should be very smooth, light, and soft. Taste the hummus and add more salt if needed.
- Scoop the hummus into a serving bowl and top with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, and some chopped kalamata olives.
- Inspiration: This recipe is adapted (with a few changes) from Marc Solomonov, and is from his cookbook Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking
- Garnish ideas: Other thoughts for garnishes include, paprika or smoked paprika, toasted pine nuts, or whole chickpeas (either simply cooked or crisped up in oil).
- Cooking time: I have cooked the chickpeas in a few different ways to come up with my favorite method. Since I tend to forget to presoak, I like to simply cook them in the oven from dry, but I thought I would give you all the methods. Each method uses 1 heaping tablespoon of kosher salt in the water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
- Unsoaked chickpeas oven method: Cover the chickpeas with about 4 inches of salted water + 1 tsp of baking soda. Bring to a boil, then cover and into the oven at 350F for 2 hours. (This is my favorite since it requires no extra appliances and you can check the doneness as it cooks.)
- Unsoaked chickpeas Instant Pot: Cover the chickpeas with 4 inches of salted water + 1 tsp of baking soda. Set the IP to high pressure, no keep warm, 35 minutes, and use natural release. Do not hit quick release! The chickpeas are soft and will make a mess. To come to pressure, cook, and then fully release takes about 1 hr 45 minutes.
- Soaked chickpeas oven method: Prefer to soak? Soak the chickpeas in 2 inches of salted water + 1 tsp of baking soda for 8-12 hours. Then, drain the chickpeas and cover them again with about 2 inches of salted water + 1 tsp of baking soda. Bring to a boil, then cover and into the oven at 350F for 20-25 minutes. (This is quick cooking, but you do need to think of it the night before!)
- Soaked chickpeas Instant Pot: For the instant pot, cover the beans with 2 inches of salted water + 1 tsp of baking soda and turn on the IP to low pressure, no keep warm, 0 minutes, and use natural release. (So that it comes to pressure and shuts off.) Do not hit quick release! The chickpeas are soft and will make a mess. To come to pressure and then fully release takes about 1 hr 15 minutes.
- Canned Chickpeas: Not much for using dried? Then take two cans of chickpeas, drain them, and add them to a pot with 2 inches of water and 1 tsp of baking soda. Bring to a boil and then cook, covered, in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Texture: No matter the cooking method, your chickpeas should be soft and falling apart, but not complete mush.
- Salting the water: Salting does not harm the chickpeas or make them tough or increase the cooking time. What is does do is flavor the chickpeas.